Robert Dowds TD voices support for Government over Protestant education
Labour TD, Robert Dowds, has countered Shane Ross TD ’s assertion to the Gazette (report, 2nd August) that fee-paying schools in the Republic save the Government money, Mr Ross having cited a report from PWC indicating that every child taken out of a free scheme school and put into a fee-paying school saves the State €3,500.
Mr Dowds told us that “the alternative argument is that private schools cost the State circa €100 million”, adding: “In the UK, private schools are self-financing. Why, especially when the State is in such a difficult financial situation, should we finance private education?”
In a separate development, Mr Dowds issued a statement on 11th September, responding to a letter from a group of Fine Gael Protestant councillors to Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Protestant education.
The Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission has a long history, going back to the establishment of a Joint Preparatory Commission for dialogue in 1967. That initiative in turn followed the new ecumenical commitment on the part of the Roman Catholic Church at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
The presence of ecumenical observers at Vatican II was a remarkable development following the refusal of the Vatican in previous years to become involved in official ecumenical dialogue, and the experience was so positive that formal dialogue was a natural consequence. The first Anglican Co-Chair of ARCIC was the Church of Ireland’s late Archbishop Henry McAdoo.
ARCIC’s work so far has been in three phases, known as ARCIC-I, II and III respectively. The Final Report of ARCIC-I addressed the issues of eucharistic theology, ministry and authority in the Church, but ARCIC-II and III have not been as ‘headline’ news. A separate International Anglican/Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission was established in 2000 to focus on more practical questions of cooperation.
The Final Report of ARCIC-I, which was produced in 1986, was judged by the Church of Ireland in what can best be described as a constructively critical way, as was a more recent ARCIC-II document on Mary. Having said that, the Vatican has also at times been cautious over the fruits of ARCIC’s deliberations. At any rate, there has been little official movement in practical terms, the Vatican pointing to further complications in Anglican- Roman Catholic relations arising particularly over women’s ordination.
The upshot is that, while in 1993 the Vatican made some concessions regarding eucharistic sharing in very specific circumstances of spiritual need, a relative impasse persists. However, comments made to the Gazette last week by the current Roman Catholic Co-Chair of ARCIC-III , Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, present some grounds for hope that there will be progress, even if at a slow pace (report, page 16 and associated audio interview). Archbishop Longley indicated that, as concessions – however limited – were made by the Vatican in 1993, a further relaxation is possible. It is earnestly to be hoped that this will be the case because for people in the pews – Anglicans and members of other communions, as well as many Roman Catholics themselves – lack of eucharistic sharing is a running sore that really needs to be addressed more adequately.
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